Neel cites research that indicates, out of every dollar, 68 cents stays in the community if the money is spent at a local shop; only 43 cents does so at national chain stores.
Local shops support other local businesses.
"If they need office supplies or they need an accountant or a graphic designer, a printer, a lawyer, even a bank, any of those things they spend locally, so that's actually why the money stays here," Neel said.
When residents spend money in their own town, a portion of the sales tax helps to support city services.
Mae Chan Frey co-owns kids wear shop Ruby's Garden in Oakland's Temescal District. Taking the buy local concept one step further, she buys most of her merchandise from local designers and artists.
"These are our neighbors, and it just makes sense to me that we're all trying our best to stay afloat in our own homes and our own households, and many of these are moms, too, that are just trying to be able to stay home and work and support their families," Frey said.
But other Oakland residents are quick to explain why they do not shop locally.
"That would be great if they had places to shop in Oakland, and there's not a wide selection like there's Bay St. Mall here and then in Oakland, there's no mall to speak of," Chiconda Chambers said.
For others, the economy influences where they shop.
"With the economy the way things are going nowadays, people just want a bargain, so if they have to travel elsewhere -- 10, 15 miles more to save $30, $40, it's well worth it," Berkeley resident Hermilo Monroy said.
Still, the co-owners of Oakland's Paws & Claws pet shop believe many residents get it.
"It feels really good when we go to another local business and we see some of the same customers; it definitely like a community," Ruth Villasenor said.